Estate Planning for Young Families

For parents of a child who is a minor (i.e., someone under the age of 18 years), estate planning is not just about who inherits your assets after you pass away. It’s about caring for your children.

An estate plan allows you to choose who would ultimately raise your children if you passed away before they reach adulthood. But nominating a guardian is just one of the ways an estate plan can protect your children if something happened to you. Other ways to protect your children with your estate plan include safeguarding their inheritance, protecting their relationships with their siblings and other family members, and avoiding unnecessary hassles.


Our estate planning attorneys have significant experience working with parents of young children. We can customize a plan that meets your family’s needs

Nominating a Guardian

Every new parent needs at least a Last Will and Testament (commonly known as a Will). If you have children under 18 years old, the Will can nominate a guardian to care for your child or children if something happens to you and the other parent. If you don’t appoint a guardian, a court will choose for you – and the court might not select the person you would have chosen.

Choosing a guardian is an incredibly personal decision. You will want to consider several factors. Will your children have to move? Does the person you are considering have the resources to care for your children? What do you know about their parenting style? If you are choosing a couple, would you prefer one person over the other if they divorced? Perhaps most importantly, are they willing to take on the role? Our attorneys can help you narrow down the options and select the right person for the role.

Leaving Assets to a Minor Child

A minor cannot legally own inherited property until he or she turns 18. In Georgia, a minor who inherits assets requires a conservatorship proceeding. During this proceeding, a judge appoints someone to manage the inheritance. If the child needs funds for any reason, a judge must approve the expenditure in advance. This is the case every time your child needs to use the funds. Involving the court costs money, which comes out of the child’s inheritance. When the child turns 18, the child receives the remainder of his or her inheritance.

Most parents want to keep their children’s inheritance out of court to eliminate unnecessary hassles and expenses. Many parents also worry their children won’t be financially responsible enough to handle the inheritance at 18.

A trust addresses both of these concerns. It allows you to choose someone to manage the funds and distribute the inheritance according to your instructions. For example, you can specify that the inheritance is held in trust until your child turns 25, but the child can access the funds early for health and education. Our experienced estate planning attorneys can customize the parameters to align with your values and objectives.

Leaving an Inheritance to a Child with Special Needs

If your child receives public assistance disability benefits, such as those provided by Social Security and Medicaid, a special needs trust allows you to leave them an inheritance without compromising their benefits.

Read Thrift McLemore Blog Posts about Estate Planning for Young Families

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